Thursday, 27 August 2020
Title: PAPA Par Excellence
By: Cecilia Tan 陈俊芳
“The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”
The story is told about a group of botanists exploring in the Swiss Alps for a rare species of flowers. They spotted an extremely rare flower growing on a ledge of a steep and dangerous cliff. They offered a young shepherd boy a huge sum of money if he would allow them to tie a rope round his waist and then lower him down the cliff to retrieve the flower.
It seemed like a highly attractive offer but after looking down the steep cliff, he rejected it. However, he could not resist the lure of quick money! The boy looked down again and again at the cliff and then told them to wait a while. He returned with an elderly man and said, “I will go down the cliff and get the flower only if you let this man hold the rope – he is my father.“
When David declared in Psalm 28:7 that the Lord is his strength and shield, he had learnt to trust the Lord as the shepherd boy did his father. David, then the anointed king of Israel was hailed a hero for defeating Goliath and had won many battles as Israel’s top general. He even married King Saul’s daughter. Life could not get any better than this!
Unexpectedly, his fortune changed when the jealous King Saul sought to kill him, and David spent the next 10 years or more, running from Saul. He spent most of the time hiding in caves with a bunch of misfits and even had to feign insanity to save his skin! The Psalms he wrote are a record of the distress he endured, the cries of anguish from his heart and the despair he sometimes felt.
Thankfully, during those traumatic and painful episodes, he discovered God’s faithfulness, inherent greatness and mighty power, and realised God truly loved and treasured him as His beloved child. Hence, he could often burst out in joyful praise and thanksgiving!
Both the shepherd boy and David felt safe simply because they had complete trust in a father figure – the boy in his own father and David in his God. Indeed, when David prayed to God, he must have held in his mind the picture of the Almighty God and Creator as a being who has a father’s heart, a father’s love and a father’s strength.
When our Lord Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He affirmed the fact that true prayer must begin with a concept of God as father, even though God is the majestic Supreme Being who owns this universe and controls the workings of the heavens and the earth. For our God is not a far-away, distant and mighty celestial being but a Father who has planned for His children to walk alongside Him in the journey of life.
In many languages “ Papa” is a word used as an affectionate term for father. When we pray, we ought to remind ourselves like David did, that the Lord is our strength and shield, and because He is also our “Papa”, we can have full confidence that He has our best interests at heart and will do His best to safeguard our well-being.
The acronym “PAPA” incorporates four distinct concepts of fatherhood. The first “P” is for “Protector”. God is a father who protects His children. Psalm 91 clearly states that God promises to watch over His children as a father would over his offspring. The key word to describe this psalm is security – as we take refuge in God, we are secure within the loving arms of our Heavenly Father and well shielded against every form of danger.
The first “A” in “PAPA” stands for “Anchor”. An anchor is meant to hold something in place. A ship needs the holding power of the anchor to keep from drifting on the water or being driven by the wind. As our anchor, God keeps us steadfast and gives us hope during the trials and storms of life. For we know no matter how big or terrifying the waves in the storm, we have an anchor in our Heavenly Father, whose very word can calm the fiercest of storms. As the psalmist declared in Psalm 46:1-3, God is a place of serenity when all else is hopelessly turbulent.
The second “P” in “PAPA” denotes God as “Jehovah Jireh”, the “Lord our Provider”. It is so wonderful to know that God knows our every need. There is no need that is too small for Him to bother about, or too big for Him to handle. He cares about our every need. Earthly fathers know how to provide the very best for their children and even stash up substantial assets for them to inherit. Our Heavenly Father will surely do much more for His children, providing all that they ever need, both in this life and in the next, as stated in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”.
The last “A” in “PAPA” is for “Advisor”. God advises His children in the most perfect and complete way. He is the best Advisor because the full wonder of His wisdom and power are utterly beyond our human understanding. When the Apostle Paul ended his book of Romans, he emphasized one attribute of God, namely His wisdom – “To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” ( Romans 16:27). Paul declared that God alone is wise – gloriously and infinitely wise. We as earthly parents with very limited wisdom seek to give our children the best advice possible. How much more will our Heavenly Father seek to give us excellent advice with His unlimited, vast and boundless knowledge and wisdom!
Life is not a bed of roses and sunshine all the way. Into every life, some rain will fall. Sometimes, a light shower; sometimes a huge thunderstorm. Whatever it is, we can confidently proclaim like King David, that the Lord is our strength and shield, and our hearts are filled with joy. How so? Because the One holding the rope of your life and my life is none other than our PAPA PAR EXCELLENCE!
Our Heavenly Father, we are so privileged to be Your children and to be able to call You “Papa”. Thank You that You are our Protector, Anchor, Provider and Advisor par excellence. In this increasingly dangerous world, we can count on You to be our strength and shield. In these perilous times, we can count on You to turn the tide and calm the angry sea. May You daily hide us under Your wings and keep us as apples of Your eye. We thank You in Jesus’ name. Amen.
这看似一个诱人的出价，但当他在陡峭的悬崖上俯视后，他拒绝了。可是，他却忍不住赚快钱的诱惑！这个男孩一次又一次低头看着悬崖，接着便要求他们稍等一下。过了一会儿，他带着一位长者回来，说：“只有让这个男人抓紧绳子，我才会下悬崖去摘花 – 他就是我的父亲。”
以上所提到的年轻牧羊人和大卫都感到安全，仅仅是因为他们完全信任父亲这人物 – 年轻牧羊人对他父亲和大卫对阿爸父神的信靠。当大卫向上帝祈祷时，他脑海看见的一定是一位拥有父亲的心、父亲的爱和父亲的力量的全能创造主。
“PAPA”中的第二个“P”表示上帝为“Jehovah Jireh-耶和华以勒”，“Lord our Provider-主是我们的供应者”。上帝知道我们的每一个需求，真是太好了。没有任何需要太小，小至祂不放在心上；没有任何需要太大，大至祂不能处理。地上的父亲尚且知道把最好的给儿女，甚至积累大量财产供他们继承，何况我们在天上的父，岂不为我们做得更多，并供应我们今生和来生所需要的一切吗？如腓立比书4:19所述：“我的神必照他荣耀的丰富，在基督耶稣里使你们一切所需用的都充足。”
生活并非凡事称心遂意，一路阳光普照。每个生命总会有下雨的时刻。时而细雨绵绵；时而雷电交加，狂风暴雨。无论如何，我们都可以像大卫王一样信心十足地宣告，主是我们的力量和盾牌，我们的内心充满喜悦！为何如此呢？因为紧握您和我生命绳索的那一位正是我们最卓越爸爸 PAPA PAR EXCELLENCE！